“…all musicians have that little bit of urge an in them to wail”
Two years ago, MR spoke to Dan Briggs (here), bassist for jazz fusion trio Trioscapes (and Between The Buried And Me) about their debut album, Separate Realities (reviewed here). On 19 August their second album Digital Dream Sequence will be released. Here, Dan talks to MR’s Gary Cordwell about putting the album together, their inspiration and development, playing live, and why the jazz world is yet to fully embrace them.
Hi Dan. This is Gary from The Midlands Rocks. Thank you very much for taking time out for this interview and congratulations on Digital Dream Sequence (review coming soon). Did the album come together easily?
It did, yeah. We wrote the song ‘Digital Dream Seqeunce’ not too long after our first album Separate Realities came out, and then turned it back on early this year and finished writing the album. When we’re in the swing of things we work pretty quickly.
You are all in other bands, is juggling your commitments and finding time to record/play live difficult?
So far it hasn’t been too difficult. The thing you never want to have to do is not take a tour offer because you already have commitments elsewhere, and thankfully that hasn’t happened yet. I have the busiest schedule and I generally know where I’ll be 6 months or so into the future, so we can plan around that.
Is there a unifying theme/idea to the new album?
It really just shows us writing more mature and cohesive music. Touring together for two years brought us closer as musicians and we wanted to capture a lot of that on the recording. We wanted to mix densely structured parts of songs with loose, free feeling bits and that all came from just playing together a lot more before recording this one as opposed to the first record.
The artwork for this album is much more modern than your debut, which could almost be an old, long lost Blue Note cover. Is this reflected in the music?
We were obviously going for a Blue Note look on the first record, we weren’t sure what the music was saying so we thought we’d just make us the focus for that one. When I was listening to the songs on Digital Dream Sequence I was focusing on certain parts of each song to bring imagery to my mind to build a name off of. The art developed from the title track, and we wanted to capture a dream feel on the booklet art. There are a lot of layers to the artwork and you can sort of make images out, but it all has a haze to it like in a dream. We wanted it to have a retro futuristic feel to it as well.
Who are your inspirations at the moment, both as a band and individually as musicians?
Creatively I’m in a different place right now because I’m writing music for the next Between the Buried and Me record. For Trioscapes, just because we got done touring in May and June, and those shows were really our tighest that we’ve felt as a band, it’s really encouraging. The live setting is the most exciting thing for our band. The music really comes to life, and there’s a lot more improvising, the dyanimcs are more exaggerated. We just want to be a force live and that’s our biggest motivation moving forward.
You were a very new band when you recorded your debut (reviewed by us here). 3 years later, how has the band chemistry/dynamic changed and how have you changed as musicians?
It’s changed us a ton, before we were just three guys and I was the common bond between the other two. We had no idea what the band was going to sound like, even after we had the album written we weren’t quite certain how it was really going to come through on record or live. Now we know what we’re capable of and we want to constantly raise the ceiling and keep pushing ourselves.
How do your songs translate live? I imagine there is a lot of exploring and improvisation.
There is, usually in the solos. Other than that it really is just about playing around with the dynamics more than on record. The aggressive parts have much more energy . We’re usually in a small, confined space, and we all face each other when we play so we’re just going hard and sweating all over the place and you don’t get that on record. But then the gentle moments feel like an even bigger breathe of fresh air and I feel like we’re able to hold back and restrain ourselves even more live. I’m excited to see how we grow as we keep playing.
And the audience, is it primarily jazz fans or metalheads? What is the crosssection?
Jazz fans, no. I would say probably almost none haha. I mean, we love certain jazz, and I’m sure we have fans that also listen to jazz in addition to what their main love is. But we haven’t really been embraced by that world just yet. I went to see Esperanza Spalding perform the week our albums were right next to each other on the iTunes chart and my friend I was with said I should try to say something about it to her and I was like, um I highly doubt she’s going to be interested in some freaky fusion band haha. But maybe she would have been, who knows! I like to think that all musicians have that little bit of urge an in them to wail, be more wild than they are perceived.
Will you be touring in support of the album? And will we be seeing you in the UK?
We’ll be doing some small things the rest of the year while I’m writing with BTBAM, and hopefully we’ll be able to line up some bigger tours after the new year. And as soon as we get an offer we will come to the UK! We want to come for sure. I think a lot of times people don’t understand what all goes into getting international bands to their countries. The second a band or booking agent offers us something we’ll be there.
Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?
I appreciate the interview, thank you! Hopefully you will see us over there ASAP.